March 16, 2005


MAN IN THE NEWS: Paul Dundes Wolfowitz (ERIC SCHMITT, 3/17/05, NY Times)

After surveying the tsunami-pummeled coast of Indonesia from a Navy helicopter in January, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz appeared shaken at the devastation that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

"When you fly over in a helicopter you just begin to get a sense of how enormous this tragedy has been, and when people don't just lose a parent or a brother, but they lose their entire family, it gives a new horrible meaning to what it means to be a survivor," he told reporters in Banda Aceh.

"It's also clear," Mr. Wolfowitz added, "that beyond the immediate needs, there are going to be a great deal of work to rebuild, reconstruct."

In that whirlwind three-day trip to South Asia to assess tsunami damage and the Pentagon's role in relief efforts, his longtime friends and associates say, the seeds for President Bush's selection of Mr. Wolfowitz to be the next president of the World Bank were planted.

Freed, however briefly, from his Pentagon office, the daily drumbeat of violence and American casualty reports from Iraq, and a war for which he was a principal architect, friends say, Mr. Wolfowitz was energized both to be back in Asia - he was the United States ambassador to Indonesia in the late 1980's - and to be seen as the harbinger of help, not conflict.

"It did have a huge impact on him," said Sean O'Keefe, an old friend and former NASA administrator who is now chancellor at Louisiana State University. "He was stunned by the human consequences there."

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Wolfowitz said the World Bank, which sets development policy for much of the third world, was a logical extension of his longtime goal to spread human rights and political freedoms around the globe. "Economic development supports political development, and it really came home to me with the Asian tsunami," he said.

Wolfowitz Nod Follows Spread of Conservative Philosophy (TODD S. PURDUM, 3/17/05, NY Times)
Paul D. Wolfowitz once wrote that a major lesson of the cold war for American foreign policy was "the importance of leadership and what it consists of: not lecturing and posturing and demanding, but demonstrating that your friends will be protected and taken care of, that your enemies will be punished, and that those who refuse to support you will regret having done so."

Mr. Wolfowitz's career has hewed to those same unshrinking precepts, and in nominating him for the presidency of the World Bank, President Bush simultaneously removed one of the most influential and contentious voices in his war cabinet and rewarded one of his administration's most dogged loyalists with an influential and contentious spot in a wholly new realm.

By sending Mr. Wolfowitz to the World Bank, and another outspoken administration figure, John R. Bolton, to be ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Bush all but announced his belief that both institutions could benefit from unconventional thinking and stern discipline. At the same time, Mr. Wolfowitz's resignation as deputy secretary of defense, and the planned departure this summer of Douglas J. Feith as undersecretary for defense policy, would seem to give Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who often tangled with Mr. Wolfowitz, expanded influence over national security policy and minimize public feuding - something Mr. Bush is said to want badly.

Tsunami Tour Said to Spur Wolfowitz Move (Bradley Graham, March 17, 2005, Washington Post)
[A]s close associates revealed yesterday, he started thinking seriously about leaving two months ago, spurred by a January tour of the devastation in Southeast Asia caused by the tsunami. The scenes of death and destruction that he viewed in Indonesia and Sri Lanka played on Wolfowitz's long interest in Third World issues of poverty and peace, according to this account, and got him looking at what new career move he could make to help in this area.

"The catalyst was being asked to do the job -- it wasn't my decision," he said yesterday in an interview. But he called the tsunami trip "a big deal" that "may have crystallized" his views, and he referred to the visit in a written statement explaining his interest in the World Bank position.

"Nothing is more gratifying than being able to help people in need -- as I experienced once again when I witnessed the tsunami relief operations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka," the statement said. "It is also a critical part of making the world a better place for all of us."

Wolfowitz nomination a shock for Europe (Edward Alden, Christopher Swann and Guy Dinmore, March 16 2005, Financial Times)
President George W. Bush's decision on Wednesday to nominate Paul Wolfowitz as the next president of the World Bank marks the second shock this month to Europeans who thought Mr Bush would present a kinder, gentler face to the world in his second term.

Instead, along with the nomination last week of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Bush has put forward two men who have been the most passionate advocates for the view that if the US leads, the rest of the world will follow and fall into line.

"Wolfowitz has been seen as a symbol of the go-it-alone approach of the Bush administration," said Devesh Kapur, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the official history of the World Bank. "Along with the nomination of Bolton, the US is putting the biggest sceptics of multilateralism in charge."

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing:
Why Paul Wolfowitz may be a good choice to run the World Bank. (Fred Kaplan, March 16, 2005, Slate)

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 16, 2005 11:37 PM

From the Kaplan essay: Bill Clinton rejected an IMF candidate; some Europeans will be tempted to return the favor now—though they'll probably refrain, knowing how George W. Bush responds to international naysayers.

The moron gets lucky again.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 17, 2005 7:28 AM